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Laton Injured in Busch Qualifying

August 14, 1998

BROOKLYN, Mich. (AP) _ NASCAR driver Gary Laton has been upgraded from critical to serious condition following a wreck at Michigan Speedway.

Laton suffered head and neck injuries after wrecking his car during qualifying for a Busch Grand National race Thursday.

``Gary ... responds to voice commands and opens his eyes. He can move his arms and legs as well,″ his wife, Kristy Laton, said in a statement today.

Laton is being treated at St. Joseph Mercy Hospital in Ypsilanti.

Laton spun out in his Chevrolet Monte Carlo between turns one and two at the banked 2-mile oval speedway.

Track publicist Tommy Cameron said Laton was semiconscious when he was cut out of the wrecked car. He was taken by helicopter to the hospital.

``In cases like these, we take all precautions,″ Gene Haskett, speedway president, said.

Laton, 35, of Albemarle, N.C. has wrecked several times in the past two years.

On May 21, Laton was one of three drivers to wreck in qualifying for the Carquest Auto Parts 300, a Busch Grand National race at Concord, N.C. He sustained a concussion and was taken to a hospital for a CAT scan and X-rays of his neck.

In the Reece’s 400 ARCA race last November at Atlanta, Laton was leading by several laps when he hit the wall seven laps from the end.

Laton has two career Busch Grand National starts. He finished seventh at Charlotte in 1997 and 43rd at North Carolina Speedway in 1998.

In 12 ARCA starts, he has one victory and two poles. Laton set the Michigan Speedway ARCA pole record in 1997 at 181.566 mph.

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